Much of recent history has seen football fans wondering who the better of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Jose Mourinho is, but Carlo Ancelotti just knocks them out of the water.
The Italian appeared to be on a downward trend after following up the Champions League triumph with Real Madrid in 2014 with a disappointing spell at Bayern Munich which resulted in an early dismissal.
European royalty with his wins as manager and player, Ancelotti then seemed content to swap the Champions League for the Europa League with spells at Napoli and Everton, but he’s now returned to the top with stunning results.
A second wind in Madrid resulted in a maiden La Liga title, as well as a record fifth Champions League final – where victory would see him into his own pantheon.
However, it has been far from easy for the 62-year-old since his last final appearance for Madrid in 2014, with the following years seeing his reputation at the highest level wane.
Ancelotti arrived in Bavaria in 2016 as a hot property after news broke of Guardiola’s move to Manchester City, but the Spaniard proved an impossible act to follow.
The Italian was sacked by Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rumenigge after less than two seasons at the helm, with the club’s former chief even confirming that Ancelotti had lost the dressing room.
“Ancelotti had five players against him,” Rumenigge said.
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“Since the start of the season, the team’s performance has not lived up to our expectations, and the match in Paris [Saint-Germain] clearly showed that we had to draw conclusions.
Several reports in Germany have claimed the intensity and tactical nature of training has diminished, with Arjen Robben refusing to deny stories players want Ancelotti sacked.
But what was missing in Munich clearly isn’t missing in Madrid, with Ancelotti getting the better of Guardiola, the man who had inadvertently sent his career into a downward spiral.
Elsewhere, little success or improvement has been seen at both Napoli and Everton, with the latter spell receiving even more criticism, this time from talkSPORT’s Simon Jordan among others.
After Ancelotti’s transfer to Madrid, Jordan said: “The outcry and the interest at the start of the season and the way everything was falling into place and then they finished tenth in the league.
“We talk about style rather than substance. I didn’t think the direction Ancelotti was in was indicative of his career, and there were many reasons, mostly financial, why he ended up at Everton.
“They finished tenth in the league and I really don’t think Ancelotti pulled out a lot of trees.
“I don’t think, when you look at the 18 months, it’s really a loss, because he didn’t bring anything, what did he bring?
“At the end of the day, Thomas Tuchel comes to Chelsea and wins a Champions League, takes them to the cup final and finishes fourth in the league. Carlo Ancelotti is spending 18 months bringing Everton back to where they started.
Now, just like his Parisian rival, Jurgen Klopp, Ancelotti has turned doubters into believers and instead of retiring, he now stands on the precipice of history.
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